Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Glee Club in California

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Mid-Western Hospitality In The West

Patrick Griffith '10 - This past week in San Francisco wasn’t my first visit, and I certainly hope it won’t be the last!  It was, however, my first time being in California while being a Wabash student and further, a representative of the Wabash College Glee Club.  The combination of the two along with what I have found that Wabash means to me has created an outstanding trip that is incomparable to any of my previous visits to the San Francisco Bay area.

First a bit of background on my previous visits—I have an aunt and an uncle (they are siblings) who both live in the area—my aunt has lived in San Francisco for nearly 30 years and my uncle merely 5, both after moving from LaPorte, Indiana.  My immediate family and I have been out to visit several times and they have graciously provided accommodations and touring information.  While I will continue to trust their judgment, entertain their recommendations and highly value other opinions as their favorite [unmarried] nephew, it was enjoyable to be with my comrades of the Glee Club and take a new sense of adventure.  Coming from a closely-knit family, I still made a point to see my local relatives as much as possible, and vice versa.  My parents even made the trip out to visit two of my father’s four siblings and see the Glee Club perform as a bonus!

I have discovered throughout the week that there is a distinct difference between people from or educated in the mid-west and those from the West Coast.  I believe that a local passerby said it best when commenting, “I knew you all couldn’t be from around here—you’re all too nice and innocent.”  The more I thought about that comment; the actions of those influenced by the mid-west became prevalent. I owe a large portion of this week’s adventures to three people: Aunt Jeanne, Fred LaCosse ’56, and Jeff Troutner all from cities in Indiana, LaPorte, South Bend and Ft. Wayne, respectively. 

I am actually forever grateful for the amount of work that my aunt, Jeanne Griffith, and her assistant (Jennifer) put forth to assisting the Glee Club in finding a hotel with an amazing view as well as many other additives throughout our week stay.  She graced the Glee Club as a whole with a meal on the first night and then my roommates and myself a few days later with a bonus of a trip to Pacifica, CA and the meal on the ocean side a few days later.  She decided to take the three of us around on a mobile tour of the city pointing out various points of interest.  Refer to Justin Billby’s post for the location points.


Fred LaCosse, along with his wife Terry Lowry, contacted and set up venues for the Glee Club to perform as well as exciting trips for us to gain a cultural experience of San Francisco.  I especially enjoyed our trip to Alcatraz Island this time now that I have aged 12 years since my inaugural trip to the used-to-be prison.  The only thing that has changed about it is the amount of appreciation that I have for the island and its history, although I’m sure the ticket price went up—I didn’t have to pay attention either time, thankfully!  I would also say that my favorite performance was at The Family, a male organization in which Fred is involved, where we were able to sing, and myself, Forrest Craig ‘10 and Tian Tian ’11 were able to play a piano trio, for which an encore was asked at the conclusion of the program! Fred still embodies what a Wabash man is supposed to be, and Terry has most certainly sets a high bar when it comes to being the wife of an Alumnus.  It was a treat to spend time with them as they bestowed their kindness upon us.


This evening a family friend of Ben Harvill, Jeff Troutner took us out on the town—and he took us to places that I had never been before!  It was quite exciting!  We got to see the Golden Gate Bridge from a point right on the bay very close to the bridge itself.  We also went through Sausalito, Tiburon, and other small towns on the trip.  It was a whole new side of the Bay Area that I had never seen before!  It was exciting to see that a Hoosier, such as myself, could be successful move to the Bay Area and live comfortable.


The hospitality of these people has really been immeasurable.  I’ve known for quite some time that the work ethic of those from the mid-west is preferred on the coasts, and now, even as an undergraduate, I can see why.  It is only my hope that someday I will be able to use my mid-western hospitality for a group of men—a group of Wabash men. 


Bryan Burzon '11 - How do you end a week that started with 8 or our group people stuck in an elevator, eating at an all you can eat sushi restaurant for 30 dollars, seeing Alcatraz Island, and going to China town? You end it by realizing what this trip was all about. I have to admit, I thought this trip was about singing and having fun, but it’s not. Today the Glee Club Performed at the Vintage Golden Gate nursing home.  Performing at the nursing was an enlightening moment of our purpose as a Glee Club. Seeing those people sitting and listening to us made me realize that this whole trip was not about us; it was about bringing joy to peoples faces as they heard the beautiful chords that we sang. All the hours that we put in were all for that moment of making someone smile. Their smiles not only brought joy to myself, but it made me realize that the hours I spent rehearsing were indeed worth it.

After leaving the nursing home and having an hour to ourselves we headed to the John Pence Gallery to meet with the Wabash Alums. The gallery was filled with amazing paintings and sculptures done by various artists. Before the concert, we had a chance to talk to some of the Wabash alumni. All the alumni I had talked to had been impacted by their experience at Wabash College and I realized that my experience at Wabash College will not only affect my career in the future but also will effect me as a person. Each of the men I spoke to shared stories, not of what the learned in the classroom, but of the things they learned outside. I didn’t hear about the biology classes, or Dr. Blix giving religion lectures on Hinduism. Instead, I heard about how things such as the Glee Club fostered a love of the arts. For many of the men, the experiences outside of the classroom are what they carried with them throughout the years. I think Glee Club, and this San Francisco tour, will be one such experience for me.